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March 10, 2014

Alexandr Dolgopolov


6‑3, 3‑6, 7‑6

THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.

Q.  A few minutes later now, but how do you still feel?  Do you believe you were able to do that?
ALEXANDR DOLGOPOLOV:  I feel great, I mean, as after every win, of course.  This one was bigger and I beat the defending champion, No. 1 in the world.
I guess I just need to enjoy this evening and forget about it tomorrow and try to compete the rest of the tournament.  I'm still in.  That's great, and I'm really happy I could manage to win today.

Q.  You were up 5‑2 in the third.  Letting that slip, did you feel maybe your chance had gone?
ALEXANDR DOLGOPOLOV:  Not really.  I mean, I knew I'm playing well enough to win.  The point was just not to get too nervous.  I knew he's going to make me play that game and not miss much, and I just gave it away.  That was all on me.  I didn't serve, didn't play well, and I just tried to forget about that and come back.
I think I did quite well service game at 5‑All, and the tiebreak was really good at the end for me.

Q.  What went through your mind after the challenge for the last point?
ALEXANDR DOLGOPOLOV:  Just I thought, You've got to be kidding me (smiling).  I was thinking he's gonna challenge because I didn't really raise my hands up or anything, you know, after that ace because I knew it was close and I wasn't sure it was on the line.
Then I just tried to come back as fast as I could to the line, and so I didn't have enough time to think about it and just serve and start the point.
Then I got my chance at the point, and I just went for the winner.

Q.  Did you learn anything playing him in Rio that helped you?  You played him so recently.
ALEXANDR DOLGOPOLOV:  I mean, Rio, no, I didn't learn much because he made seven unforced errors in two sets, so I couldn't learn a lot there (smiling).  I was just trying to just hold on every game, and he didn't give me much chances.
I mean, I broke back.  The match was supposed to be finished.  He didn't serve for the match and I didn't really know what to do on the court because he was giving me no errors.
I mean, on clay sometimes he plays like that.  Usually he plays like that probably on clay.
So I wouldn't say Rio helped me much today.  I think I played much better today.  It was hard court.  I returned well and I had a day to practice with a lefty, so there was a lot of differences.  But I don't think that impacted our match or helped me today to win.

Q.  I know from after we spoke the other day you're sick and tired of the political thing, but you just beat the defending champion, No. 1 in the world, one of the most beloved sportsmen that we have.  Do you think in some way that might be a feel‑good moment, might help people back in your country now?
ALEXANDR DOLGOPOLOV:  Well, for sure.  I mean, it's a moment for the people to be proud a little bit for someone from their country, I guess.
That's good.  As I said a lot of times, it's good to make some results and make the people forget a little bit and have some happy moments in the news except the politics and all the bad stuff happening.

Q.  What's been the difference for you this year?  You have been surging up the rankings; fell a little bit last year.  What's changed?
ALEXANDR DOLGOPOLOV:  I mean, last year I didn't have really good preparation.  Last year I had Davis Cup.  All together it happened and I wasn't finding my good form.  I didn't have enough practice before the season.  I played all three Davis Cup matches.  I was injured after Australia.  I had to play the Davis Cup injured and got even more injured.
It was a messy year.  This year I had a month for preparation.  I did it quite well, and I think most of my matches were good.  I mean, I'm not happy with a few, maybe, but even when I lost in the start of the season I was playing good.
So I was on the roll, and now I got a few wins and I got more confidence.

Q.  You were working with Fabrice Santoro.  Talk about that relationship there.
ALEXANDR DOLGOPOLOV:  No, we tried to talk about my tennis, you know, in the start of the year, but it didn't go further.
This time I'm with my father.  He's helping me out.  He's an ex‑tennis student.  He was with me in Australia.  My father doesn't always travel.  They change, but mostly I'm coached by my dad now.

Q.  How hard is it for you to find coaches to help you?  You play such an unusual game, I guess someone like Santoro can kind of relate to the kind of things you do on court.
ALEXANDR DOLGOPOLOV:  That's pretty much why I had two coaches in my life.  My dad did most, and then I had Jack Reader who was helping me out with a lot of stuff and he was understanding how I needed to play, you know.  He wasn't really pushing me or tried to change a lot in my game.
That's why I had two coaches.  I think it's not easy for people to understand some different game, you know.  Some people have their view on the tennis, and they try to ‑‑ if they coach someone, they try to make him play like they want.
But for me, I don't think that's the best decision.

Q.  Has there been a change in the locker room in terms of the perceived invincibility of, you know, Roger, Rafa, Andy, Novak?  We are seeing a few more upsets at tournaments big and small.
ALEXANDR DOLGOPOLOV:  Yeah, I think for sure the guys lower‑ranked now believe more than a few years ago.  But, I mean, that's normal that they were playing at some unbelievable level, not dropping almost never.  So what can you do?
Time after time you lose that momentum, you know.  I don't think it's possible to play like they played all their career.  I think it's normal that they are starting some up and downs and some younger guys get chances to beat them.
That's life.  All of us get older, and that's normal.  Every generation is going to go and the younger ones are going to push.
But I think it's good for the tour, you know, that the people see new people playing, new players.  It's more fun that way.

Q.  How much do you, yourself, struggle to understand your game?  Forget the coaches.  What about you yourself?
ALEXANDR DOLGOPOLOV:  I understand my game pretty well.  I mean, I think I'm quite good tactically.  I understand how to play the players.  The only problem for me is to get to that condition where my game is good, you know, because I have a lot of shots, a lot of risk, and sometimes that just‑‑ if you're not in shape physically, mentally, or something is falling out, I'm all over the place.  That's not good for becoming, you know, consistent.
But I think if I work on it I can try to find that perfect game and not drop the consistency.  But it's not easy.  Also I have a lot of advantages that I can use a lot of those shots.  I'm a bit unorthodox, as you said.
So, I mean, as a normal person, I have advantages and minuses.

Q.  Talk about your service game.  I think you had 12 aces maybe.
ALEXANDR DOLGOPOLOV:  I think I was serving not quite well today, but happily the serves helped me a lot in the important moments.  Because the percentage was‑‑ after the first set I saw it on the screen.  It was 32, and I couldn't put one first serve in.
But, yeah, happily all those big moments I had a lot of good serves, aces, or where he touched the serve, especially on the tiebreak.  On the 5‑All game I served an ace at love‑15.  So it was a really good thing, but I'm really not happy with the consistency.
But with my service, that happens.  I have had those problems.

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